Fees and Deposit Limits6.9/10
Ease of Use9.6/10
Account Types and Services8.4/10
- Hedge fund-style investment strategy
- In-depth investment research
- $500 minimum deposit
- User-friendly mobile app
- Quarterly account rebalancing
- 1% fee is higher than most robo advisors
- No web/desktop version
2019 Titan Invest Review
Titan is an algorithmic investment advisor that offers everyday consumers the ability to invest like world-class hedge funds. Its algorithm analyzes thousands of hedge fund filings every quarter in order to determine its core portfolio of 20 high-conviction long-term investments.
While Titan Invest (sometimes called Titanvest) is not itself a hedge fund, it offers clients a personalized hedge that’s designed to protect capital in periods of protracted market downturns. In doing so, they aim to replicate the investment strategies of high-quality, long-term focused hedge funds and outperform the overall market return in the long run. Titan has $25+ million of assets under management as of April 2019, and the company says they’ve grown significantly since then.
But the differences don’t just end there. Titan Invest has an in-house investment research team working behind the scenes for you. At every step of the way, their team of seasoned investment professionals provides in-depth videos, deep dive reports, digestible market updates, podcasts, and more. Their goal is to keep you more informed about your investments than any other advisor in the world.
Titan Invest was launched in early 2018 by Clayton Gardner, Joe Percoco, and Max Bernardy. This robo advisor has a low minimum deposit, though the annual fee is higher than the average robo advisor. But before we get to the nitty and gritty in this Titan Invest review, let’s talk about hedge funds in general.
What is a Hedge Fund?
Simply put, a hedge fund is an alternative investment aiming to grow your capital while protecting (“hedging”) it from significant market declines. Hedge funds are investments designed to minimize risk and maximize profits, with particular attention to the part about maximizing profits. Although historically hedge funds have been shown to increase profits over the long term, keep in mind there are also some downsides to this style of investing as well.
Unfortunately, true hedge funds are only available to accredited investors, or those who have a net worth exceeding $1 million or assets exceeding $5 million.
But the hedging style of investing is available to anyone with the know-how. That’s where Titan Invest comes in.
Titan Invest and Hedge Funds: What’s the Difference?
Here’s where the service of Titan Invest really gets interesting. Similar to conventional robo advisors, Titan creates and manages your investment portfolio. But instead of building a portfolio based on conventional ETFs, Titan will invest your portfolio in a selected group of individual stocks. The stocks are derived from what Titan believes are twenty of the highest quality and top performing companies. This includes investments in Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Apple, and TransDigm, to name a few.
Each portfolio comes with an automated Personalized Hedge. The level of ‘hedging’ will vary by client and will also be based on your preferred risk tolerance (Aggressive, Moderate, or Conservative) after opening an account. Even though the hedge is not a guarantee of not incurring any losses, it may help in mitigating potential losses when market volatility strikes.
The Personalized Hedge feature is fully-automated and will adjust according to a quantitative comparison of Titan’s performance vs. the S&P 500’s. If your investment portfolio is declining significantly for a period of time, the service will move a greater amount of your capital into the hedge and vice-versa. It’s important to point out that selecting a conservative approach will increase the amount of your capital invested in the hedge relative to the twenty stocks.
What are Titan Invest’s Fees?
You can open an account and start investing with Titan Invest with a $500 minimum investment. This keeps it at par with other robo advisors offering low minimum deposits including Wealthfront and Emperor Investments. While other robo advisors like Wealthsimple and Swell have a lower minimum deposit, we actually think investing such a small amount of money won’t end up giving you much benefit anyway.
In fact, the real value of super-low minimum deposits are only in the ability to try out the platform before investing a larger amount later on.
Titan charges an annual fee of 1%.
We reached out to Titan to know more about their fee structure and this is what they have to say:
“When it comes to fees, we believe “you get what you pay for,” and our clients would agree. For 1% annual fee, clients have the opportunity to outperform the market over the long run by investing in only the highest quality growth co’s (as we believe our strategy identifies) and they stay more informed on their investments than anyone else with original research created by our dedicated investment team.”
Considering that Titan Invest provides an in-depth investment research team working for you, plus a personalized hedge aiming to minimize losses in downturns, the higher-than-average annual fee could be worth it. Additionally, Titan Invest does not charge any performance fees. Conventional hedge funds charge anywhere from 15% to 20% in performance fees, on top of the management fee, which is commonly 2%.
While 1% is much higher than your average robo advisor, Titan will reduce fees by 0.25% for you and each person you refer to them, when that person joins Titan. This means if you refer four of your friends or colleagues to the service, your Titan Invest portfolio will be managed for zero advisory fees, forever, on its core 13F product.
This could add up to big savings over time, especially for larger account balances.
Many robo advisors offer more services or lower fees for larger account balances. Wealthsimple, for example, drops their annual fee from 0.50% to 0.40% and adds features like VIP airline lounge access and a personalized financial planning session for accounts over $100,000.
We would like to see Titan offer some kind of extra incentive for investing a larger amount into their services, whether it be a reduced fee or extra features, or both.
Account Types and Services
Each portfolio in Titan Invest is distributed evenly among twenty stocks. If you invest $500, each stock will get a $25 investment. So if the price of one stock is $100, you would get 0.25 of a share of that company’s stock. This makes you a direct owner of the stocks in your portfolio, which is beneficial in many ways.
Retirement (Traditional & Roth IRA, 401(k))
In September 2019, Titan announced they are offering Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) as part of their Retirement offering.
As part of this service, Titan will allow you to set up or roll over a Traditional or Roth IRA with the same benefits as Titan’s Individual Investment portfolios. That is, the same automated management, same annual fee, and same referral program to lower your fees, but with all of the added potential tax advantages of an IRA. You can also roll over your 401(k) or 403(b) retirement accounts, and they have a concierge system in place to help you roll those into your Titan account.
We think this is a great move and could open up robo advisors to investors who are focusing only on contributing to retirement accounts.
Flexibility & Diversification
With the advent of hybrid robo advisors and personalized investment services, determining the flexibility of a robo advisor is getting tougher still.
With Titan, your portfolio is invested strictly in twenty top-performing stocks. But it’s still flexible since your portfolio is spread evenly across the twenty companies through fractional shares.
This is not a bad thing. For starters, you are a direct owner of the stocks in your portfolio. This is in contrast to other robo advisors that invest in mutual funds or ETFs. So while you may be looking for wide diversification with some more general investment robo advisors, investing with a company like Titan is not meant for that – it’s made for a specific purpose, and that’s what they provide.
Their objective is to compound your capital at the highest rate possible over the long term, and they believe that goal is best achieved with twenty high-quality stocks and a personalized hedge, vs. a handful of ultra-diversified ETFs or mutual funds.
Ease of Use
Titan is only fully available via a mobile app. You can download the app in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Titan has a beta version available on desktop but is still working on the full web app. The mobile app is easy to use and has a nice interface. It starts by supplying the necessary information like your name, social security number, home address, and date of birth.
You then link your investment account to your bank account to make an initial deposit, or you can use wire transfers to fund your account. The mobile app can also be configured to make automatic deposits in weekly, biweekly, or monthly increments to make sure you’re growing your portfolio effectively.
Titan Invest Performance and Historical Returns
Titan Invest was only launched in 2018, so it’s tough to discern historical performance and returns over such a short period of time.
However, Titan is outperforming the S&P 500 with YTD net returns of 21.7%, while the S&P is sitting at 18.3%, as of 8/31/19. Note these illustrative returns are for a hypothetical Titan client with an aggressive risk profile; clients with moderate or conservative risk profiles would have earned lower returns. See full performance disclaimers at the end of this review and on Titan’s website.
Hopefully you’ve learned a couple of things in this Titan Invest review. For starters, we hope you now have some insight on how choosing a hedge fund-like investment service can be a smarter move in a relatively volatile market. But this level of service doesn’t come cheap when compared to other robo advisors. A better comparison may be Titan versus alternative managed investments (e.g., hedge funds) – and on that basis, they’re a great value.
Since Titan is still a newbie in the world of robo advisors, it’s hard to say how far this technique can sustain your investment portfolio in the long run. However, early results seem promising, and their in-depth investment research service alongside your managed portfolio is a differentiated offering we haven’t seen from any other robo advisor.
Aside from the high annual fee, our caveat with Titan Invest is the lack of a full web version for the service. Titan makes up for it with the in-depth investment research, live support via email, phone, chat, and social media.
Overall, we really like the idea of a hedge fund-like robo advisor since it aims to compound your capital at an above-average rate of return over the long term while protecting you from significant losses in a down market. Plus, Titan gives smaller investors access to a type of investment research and portfolio management service that is typically reserved for those with a high net worth. And since Hedgeable closed its doors to new customers in mid-2018, we’ve been looking for a robo advisor to fill its shoes by offering hedging services.
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